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  • Zen Chong

Number of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Women in Singapore Continues to Rise

Last year, there were 43,457 ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) globally who were women, with 337 female billionaires. Although women make up only 11% of global UHNWIs and 13% of billionaires, this proportion has increased significantly since 2010.

These super-rich women are mostly widows, heiresses or housewives in their 60s, and are likely to come from the United States, China or developed European countries. Their wealth primarily comes from inherited fortunes or a combination of inheritance and self-made wealth, mainly concentrated in traditional "old economy" industries such as food and beverage, retail and manufacturing. These super-rich women also tend to have a strong interest in social causes.

According to a research report released by Swiss private banking group Julius Baer on March 8th, UHNWIs refer to super-rich individuals with at least $30 million (approximately SGD 40 million) in personal wealth, while billionaires have at least $1 billion.

While UHNWIs account for only 1% of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), they control 34% of the total wealth held by HNWIs. The number of super-rich women and female billionaires has been steadily increasing, rising from 9% and 6.5% in 2010 to 11% and 13% respectively last year.

The report points out that the increase in the number of super-rich women is mainly due to more frequent wealth transfers, with more women inheriting vast fortunes. As business mindsets change, the number of self-made ultra-high-net-worth women has also increased.

In Singapore, the ratio of women to men among HNWIs is 15.8% to 84.2%, with the majority of HNWIs being retirees or nearing retirement age, and a low proportion under 50 years old. Due to Singapore's relatively short history, employment income and entrepreneurship are the most common sources of wealth, accounting for 93% of the HNWI population.

The United States and China are the main sources of super-rich women, with the two countries accounting for more than half of the world's billionaires last year.

The report also reveals that male and female UHNWIs have the same asset allocation preferences, with the largest weight on liquid assets. On the other hand, an increasing number of ultra-high-net-worth women are using trusts as a wealth preservation tool, especially widows or divorcees who have not yet mastered financial management skills.

Traditionally, male billionaires have remained on the Forbes billionaire list longer than women, with a 44% chance of staying on the list for at least five years compared to 40% for women. Female wealth inheritors are 1.18 times more likely to lose their wealth at some point than their male counterparts. Therefore, the report argues that ultra-high-net-worth women must invest more proactively and manage their wealth.

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